4.8.08

Cheap Sci-Fi

I really dig science fiction. Specifically, I like cheap, used science fiction paperbacks. I love combing thrift stores for sci-fi. I think it's sweet scoring a bunch of cheap sci-fi at garage sales. Fifty-cent book racks outside of bookstores make me happy, and actually going inside a used bookstore with a good science fiction section makes my head spin with awesomeness. If the pickings are scarce, as in the case of thrift stores and the like, I tend to just grab any sci-fi paperbacks that are older than I am and not terribly long (my attention span is short; I'm unlikely to ever read a single Dune novel); if there is sci-fi aplenty, I tend to pick by length first, cover second, and price third. The most expensive books I buy are still just a few bucks, about half of what a new mass-market paperback book costs.

I love cheap sci-fi for a bunch of reasons. I love the price, because by my calculations I'm paying mere pennies per hour of entertainment. I love the smell the smell of old books. I love discovering things long forgotten and out of print, and I love finding classics from big names for next to nothing. And I'm a nerd who likes science fiction.

I like hard science fiction, rooted in actual science, and I love fantastic, completely unrealistic science fiction. Indeed, part of the appeal of some cheap sci-fi is its shlockiness. I tend to lean towards rockets and spacemen sci-fi rather than sword and sorcery fantasy, but I've always had a fondness for speculative fiction in general, and I sometimes use sci-fi as a blanket term for the whole gamut of genres encompassed.

There are so many books that I've read and forgotten. There are so many fragments of sci-fi books in my head, unattached to any title, author, or even storyline. There are so many good books with stories that I remember quite well, even though I have no recollection of what those books were called or who wrote them. There are great books that I can't recall the names of, but I can recall the authors. What the hell is that Harry Harrison book, the first part of a trilogy, that's a lot like 1984, with a dude, aided by a network of underground conspirators, running from a corrupt government and their massive web of oppressive lies? 'Cause that one was kickass!

To help myself remember the books I read, and to share my geeky passion with the interwebs, I started a blog called Cheap Sci-Fi. You can check it out at http://cheapscifi.blogspot.com . Should you feel the need to purchase one of the books I've read, there are links to buy the books, but you really should just go find your own. There is an overwhelming abundance of cheap sci-fi out there for the finding. I'm not one for having a bunch of stuff, so if you know me in real life I'll give you any of the books I've already read if I still have them.

Should you find yourself in a used bookstore, checking out their sci-fi section and being unsure of what to buy, I've got two words for you: Ace Doubles. Bigger stores have sections of them, and smaller stores have them mixed in with the rest of the books. They're easy to spot, though. Just look for the books with the blue and red spines. The stories tend to be great, and the books themselves are super rad: each one is two books stuck together, so you read one and then flip it over and read the other one starting from the other side. The covers are sweet, too, and you get two of them. They're really expensive compared to some of the other stuff I buy, but that just means they cost a few bucks. A store in a heavy foot traffic area will charge more than one on a less-traveled street, but I still only ever pay around three dollars for them.

Also in the category of cheap sci-fi is the science fiction magazine. When I had a shitty desk job, these things really helped fill the hours. The fact that they're full of short stories made them perfect for my short attention span and the, uh, "downtime". My desk was full of them. I even wrote a song about them. Seriously, if you sit at a desk all day, you should get subscriptions to both Analogand Asimov. They're a little more expensive than old, used paperbacks, but they're still pretty damn cheap, and still super awesome. I also really like Weird Talesand the horror rag Cemetery Dance, though they're relatively expensive.

I've read a lot of books and a lot of stories. I've read all kinds of shit, but I always come back to the science fiction. I guess maybe I've just always been a nerd, but I've always loved the stuff. And I love it even more when it's cheap. Cheap sci-fi rules.

2 comments:

tommy said...

the harry harrison book you're thinking of was "home world" and was the first part of the "to the stars" trilogy, which i am still yet to read all of.

FARfetched said...

I'll definitely check out the new site tonight.

Funny coincidence: over the weekend, I picked up Arthur C. Clarke's "A Fall of Moondust" for 50 cents. Exactly the kind of book you're talking about here… sci-fi with just a little shlock factor.